(Reuters) – Recently retired Carlos Beltran will skip the Major League champion Houston Astros’ visit to the White House, he said on Tuesday, citing family reasons while also criticising the United States government and agencies.
Beltran, a native of Puerto Rico, said that he was disappointed in the U.S. response to Hurricane Maria that devastated the Caribbean island in September.
He noted the swift recovery by Houston after massive flooding in the Texas city in August.
“One thing that really impressed me a lot was how fast that city was able to get back on its feet,” the 40-year-old Beltran told reporters at an award dinner in New York.
“The situation in Puerto Rico has been different. There’s no doubt that I’m disappointed and I’m not the only one.
“We’re very disappointed in the government that we haven’t gotten the same benefits.
“Being part of the United States, you expect to at least get the same benefits when tragedies like this happen.”
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory but not a state.
Outfielder Beltran was part of the Astros team that won the World Series by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game series that stretched into November.
He subsequently retired, ending a stellar career in which he had a batting average of .279 and made nine All-Star appearances.
It is customary for championship-winning U.S. sports teams to visit the White House and meet the president. The Astros have accepted their invitation, though no date has been set.
Several athletes have vocally opposed a White House visit since Donald Trump became president just over a year ago, including Stephen Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
But Beltran said his decision had nothing to do with Trump.
“I’m retired, so I feel like a don’t belong to any team anymore,” he said.”My family, that’s the team that I belong (to) right now.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Adelaide, South Australia; Editing by John O’Brien)